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Virginia woman sentenced to 30 days for baby's heroin overdose

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By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 8, 2010

The mother of a 5-month-old Fairfax County boy who overdosed on heroin last year was sentenced Friday to 30 days in the Fairfax jail for felony child neglect.

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Marilyn R. Fischl, 36, was not in her rented Springfield townhouse when her baby overdosed while in the care of a roommate and friend in July. But one of the two babysitters, Erin Flynn, 32, testified that Fischl had given the heroin to her housemate, Patrick Hall, 42, earlier that morning and that Flynn and Hall had snorted lines of heroin with the baby nearby.

Flynn, who pleaded guilty in March to felony child abuse, testified that she went outside to smoke cigarettes and that when she came back inside, Hall had placed the baby in a car seat and the baby had a small piece of paper in his mouth.

"I thought it might have been the piece of paper that Patrick and I had consumed heroin off of," Flynn said. Hall's trial is pending.

When she came home, Fischl testified, the baby was having a seizure, and she rushed him to the hospital. The baby has since recovered.

Fischl's two other children, ages 2 and 10, were removed from her custody after the incident. When police searched her home in October, they found more than 100 syringes and, allegedly, heroin.

Fischl denied giving Hall heroin. She said that heroin had ruined her life and that she had entered an intensive residential drug treatment program in Chantilly to kick her habit. She testified that she had been clean before the baby's overdose but that after the incident, she relapsed, explaining the police discovery of paraphernalia in her home three months later.

A jury convicted Fischl of felony child neglect on April 28. With a possible sentence range of up to five years in prison, the jury sentenced her to 30 days in the county jail. Convicted felons must serve at least 87 percent of their sentences, whether in jail or prison. Fischl has already served 12 days -- three after her arrest in October, and nine since her conviction.

Fairfax Circuit Court Judge David S. Schell could have reduced the jury sentence. But on Friday, he imposed it without change or comment.

The judge asked Fischl whether she had anything to say. Fischl did not express remorse or admit any guilt. Instead, she said that the drug treatment facility where she had been staying before trial "was a good place for me. I feel that's where I belong instead of an institution or jail."

Fischl still faces trial on a heroin possession charge stemming from the October search.

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